Da Youngsta's were a trio consisting of brothers Taji and Qu'ran Goodman and their cousin Tarik Dawson. Hailing from Philadelphia, these three dudes were a prominent force in hip-hop in the early 90s, putting out four albums between the years 1992 and 1995.
After releasing their fourth LP, I'll Make U Famous, Da Youngsta's mysteriously vanished and never dropped anything ever again. Qu'ran is an occasional producer nowadays, but as far as Da Youngsta's as a group is concerned, they are defunct.
The trio released its first album, Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's, in 1992. While it is not known exactly how old they were (you'd figure information like that would be readily available, but it isn't), it is estimated that the three of them were between the ages of 11 and 13.
The thing about Da Youngsta's is that they were not a gimmicky group of kids like Kris Kross, the duo of "Jump" fame. These three had legitimate talent on the mic, and they ended up having a very impressive body of work when it was all said and done.
Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's was produced entirely by Taji and Qu'ran's father, who went by the name "L.G. The Teacher." Spanning 11 tracks long, this project was an extremely (and expectedly) light-hearted effort by a trio of youngsters (no pun intended) who just wanted to have fun.
The album spawned two singles, one being the title track and the other being the more successful "Pass Da Mic," a record that would later be remixed by the great Pete Rock.
So, for the sake of getting their discography started, let's review Da Youngsta's' first LP.
1. Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's
This was a really nice way for Da Youngsta's to introduce themselves to the rap world. L.G.'s beat knocks, and Da Youngsta's spit about how mom knows best. No; seriously. That's what they do. You might think that's corny, but it's pretty refreshing to know that there were kids in the hip-hop industry that actually had good heads on their shoulders. They could surely teach some of the youngsters in the game today a thing or two. Oh, and for what it's worth, it seems that Tarik went through puberty much earlier than his two groupmates. His voice is easily the deepest of the trio. Or maybe he was just the oldest one in the group. I don't know.
2. Street Smart
I'm not exactly sure what a bunch of 11-year olds would know about being "street smart," and I'm actually disconcerted by the mere thought of it. The title is somewhat misleading, though. Contrary to what you're probably thinking (and what I was thinking before listening), this is not about jacking dudes for their chains in alleyways. This record is basically about how you have to watch your back at all times, and you know what? That's true. L.G.'s instrumental was merely okay on this, though.
3. Rated PG
This was a pretty appropriate title given the content of the album. L.G.'s production sounds like something Chuck D would have spit over for Public Enemy, and the Flavor Flav sample on the hook kind of verifies that. Overall, though, I wasn't really feeling this all that much.
The title isn't a metaphor for anything. This song really is about Da Youngsta's' favorite cartoons. The beat is nothing more than average, but the way it changes up into an interpolation of "The Muffin Man" on the hook is pretty funny, as is Tarik's line about "watching cartoons before Oprah."
5. Tuff Cookie
L.G. laces his best instrumental since the opening track here, but "Tuff Cookie" is really more disturbing than anything else, particularly when Taji asks if they should let their "triggers go" and states that their "jimmies are getting bigger." Uhhhhh...
6. Y-Ya-Tryin' To Play Me
If Da Youngsta's were pissed off about girls playing them at the age of 11, I can only imagine what happened during their teenage years. The production by L.G. is alright, if not a bit bland, making this cut fairly forgettable.
7. I Didn't Mean 2 Break Your Heart
Wait...weren't you guys just venting about girls playing you? Now you're breaking girls' hearts? And being unfaithful at that age? Really? I didn't like much of anything about this record, from L.G.'s dull beat to the fact that Da Youngsta's are basically whispering throughout the entire thing. There is absolutely no reason this had to be over five minutes long, either.
The kids get back on the right path here, rocking over a playful L.G. instrumental about how fast time flies. Hopefully, Da Youngsta's soon realized that they were called "Da Youngsta's" for a reason. There was plenty of time for them to chill and have fun. Actually, I find it hard to believe that these dudes weren't still doing the stuff they were "reminiscing" about when they recorded this song.
9. Neighborhood Bully
You've gotta give Da Youngsta's credit for covering virtually every topic that 11-year-olds could possibly deal with. "Neighborhood Bully" is about exactly what you'd expect; a bully that picks on kids who aren't as big as him. Not great, but not bad, either.
10. Pass Da Mic
The aforementioned second single. Da Youngsta's rock over a much more mature beat here, and when you listen to Qu'ran's verse, you'll hear the "money's growin' like grass with the mass appeal" line that Gang Starr soon made famous. So, if it weren't for "Pass Da Mic," "Mass Appeal" may have never even existed. That alone makes this a profoundly important song in hip-hop. There is a guest by the name of Mentally Gifted on here, too, and he comes across as decent.
11. Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's (Remix)
The remix of the best record on the album happens to be the second-best record on the album. The lyrics are exactly the same, but the new beat that L.G. lays down is pretty nice.
Not surprisingly, I wasn't all that into Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's, as it's exceedingly difficult to get into music that pre-teen kids created. Plus, outside of a couple of highlights, particularly on the title track and its remix, the production by L.G. The Teacher was predominantly bland.
That being said, it was very clear that, even at the approximate ages of 11-13, Da Youngsta's had talent, and that talent would manifest itself on the three albums that followed.
Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's was merely three kids testing the waters of hip-hop and having fun doing so, so it would be silly to seriously criticize this album. Taji, Qu'ran and Tarik merely rapped about things that were going on in the lives of most 11-year-olds (Taji's awkward lyrics on "Tuff Cookie" aside) and for that, you have to give them (and probably moreso L.G. The Teacher, because I'm sure he supervised the project) credit.
This was only the beginning of a very impressive career for Da Youngsta's, one that was ultimately cut far too short for reasons that still aren't really known to this day. Despite the fact that they did put out four LPs, not much is known about these dudes other than their names, so the fact that the information concerning the basis for their disbandment isn't available isn't the least bit surprising.
If you have children or younger siblings (or younger cousins, whatever) and you want to introduce them to clean hip-hop that sticks to its roots, Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's is a great place to start. It's not really a great album, but it's a project that embodies the name of its song, "Rated PG."
1. Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's
2. Somethin' 4 Da Youngsta's (Remix)
4. Pass Da Mic
5. Street Smart